Archive | December, 2010

>The House Reads The Constitution

31 Dec

>…At least that’s the plan, come 6 January. Our local newpaper-ish publication actually headlined the story last week; just this morning, even NPR got around to noticing that the incoming majority party plans to read the entire text of the Constitution of the United States, out loud, including every amendment.

It’s a very good start, though a little alarming at the same time — something like your heart surgeon showing up at the OR with a stack of medical textbooks, commenting, “About time I had a look at these!”

Will it help? Maybe. (Sadly, Bernie Saunders being a Senator, I’m not going to get to see him on C-SPAN, hands over his ears, chanting “no-no-no” as the words are read; and Dennis Kuccinch is serenely confident his very Reddest dreams can be tortured from the text — with a smile, ‘cos he’s a deeply nice man. Dammit).

The new crew are also promising a move that will make them work a bit harder: every new bill will be required to include language citing which part of the Constitution gives Congress the power to meddle in whatever the bill covers. A good idea, though even if it has a longer life than most politician’s promises (a bit less than a droplet of water on a sizzling-hot griddle), it could easily become a phatic bit of hand-waving over the “necessary and proper” and “general Welfare” clauses.

On the other hand, it means the Congressbeings — or at least their staffs — will have to do a bit more digging than required to produce a press handout extolling the virtues of their next Five Year Plan. The more time they spend doing homework for one bill, the fewer they can turn out in a given span of time — and that may well be the best news of all!


>Eerie Garden

30 Dec

>One of the guys at the Skunk Works came up with it, I elaborated on the theme, Tam expanded it:

Picture a weedy, neglected lot. As you walk through it, you notice, every so often, little red spheres on the ground. Five to six feet away from each one, the tips of a pair of oversized shoes protrude from the turf. They’re all strangely aligned in regular rows. Here and there, a worn and tilted stone looms and at the base of a few of the stones, you spot a faded plastic flower.

Curious, you approach the nearest one and bend down to take a closer look. Are there eroded words on the stone? And what’s up with the flower? As you get even closer, it suddenly squirts water right in your face!

As you back away, you realize the letters spell out a name: B_ZO….

You’ve stumbled into the Clown Cemetery!

>Stop Press!

30 Dec

>Watching Fox News makes You Stupid!
Unbiased Study Reveals Horrible “Truth”
Expert Analysis
Huge Bridge In NYC For Sale, Cheap!
Sudetenland Always Part Of Germany, Experts Say!
Make Millions Owning Florida Swamp Land!
There will not be film at 11. Shuddup and take your Soma. It’s a freaking cable network, wallpaper for the boob tube. If you don’t like it, change the channel.

>Made From Stardust

29 Dec

>The man who was probably the first to point out in mass media that we — and everything else — are made out of stardust has returned to that stardust. Astrophysicist Benjamin F. Peery, late of Indiana and Howard Universities, was 88.

>First Man To Orbit Mercury!

29 Dec

>I’ll have to check the link, but a photo-story covering new USPS stamps puts two NASA-related ones side by-side and appears to confuse Alan Shepard’s Mercury spacecraft flights with MESSINGER, the first probe to orbit the planet Mercury. Yayy, science!

>What A Difference A Word Makes

29 Dec

>My ISP’s home page has a news and features feed that occasionally coughs up items of interest; but you do have read the headlines, not just let them flicker by, or you’ll see:
UK Tourists Must Wait To Wax Royal Kate
Instead of:
UK Tourists Must Wait For Wax Royal Kate
Under which we learn, “Madame Tussauds wax sculpture museum said it will try to book a sitting with Middleton after her wedding on April 29 and it would then take sculptors up to four months to make the model.” Oh, that. What a relief!

>Nannies Abounding

29 Dec

>Want to throw away that dead monitor, ancient computer or old analog TV? In Indiana, you’d better move quickly: starting 1 January 2011, you will be required to recycle them. The trash haulers will refuse them. Yes, even if you’re frail and 85, you’ll have to find some way to get that 250-lb rear-projection Philco that hasn’t worked since 1992 to the “e-cycler.” And pay them to take it, in all likelihood.

Me, I’m betting there’s going to be a lot more casual dumping of destroyed DVD players, VHS tape decks and anonymous beige boxes with Intel InsideĀ®. Coming soon to a vacant lot or a roadside near you! –And, according to the report, just chock full of toxic lead (alloyed with tin in the solder, same as it ever was) and mercury (flatscreen backlights, exactly like the gummint-mandated CFL bulbs in your lights. Will we be made to e-cycle those, too?). See “Consequences, Unintended.”